MARION COUNTY, MO (WGEM) -- The food backpack program in Marion County has helped feed hundreds of school kids for the past several years, but now the food bank that initially supplied the food has stepped back, forcing school districts to fend for themselves.
Districts are now having to look locally to help maintain the back-pack program.
In Palmyra, the program is now being called PAWS Pack. In Hannibal, it is known as the HAYS Buddy Pack Program.
Originally funded through the Central and Northeast Missouri Foodbank, this program was implemented through the efforts of staff and volunteers at various Marion County schools.
The program offers a child a backpack filled with food to take home over the weekend. Items in the backpack included: energy or granola bars, fruit cups, cheese/crackers, Ramen noodles, Cup-of-Soup, canned soup, fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, canned pasta and peanut butter.
"We've got to get some more funding in here to be able to buy more food. Peanut butter is like liquid gold to us. This peanut butter is protein so if the children aren't allergic to peanuts we try to get as much of this in their bodies as we can because that's going to help them learn," stressed Stephanie Thomeczek, Chief Executive Officer for Families and Communities Together (F.A.C.T) in Hannibal.
The cost for a child to have one of the backpacks for one weekend is around $3.50 or $100 for the remainder of the school year.
Lora Hillman, Palmyra Elementary School principal said, "We definitely are in partnership with our community and our parents and anything that we can do to provide for our students, whether it's here at school or at home makes a difference in the lives of our kids."
The more money raised will allow for more weekends where food is sent home and the more students receive food.
For donations to Palmyra:
Individuals, clubs, churches and other groups can send their donations to Palmyra Elementary School, where they will be recognized using paw prints displayed in the Elementary office. Checks should be made out to: FACT of Marion County. In the memo, please indicate that the donation is for the PAWS Pact Program. FACT will send a receipt/tax letter as the donation is tax deductible.
For donations to Hannibal:
Visit the FACT website, www.mcfact.org for more information.
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